Brit vintner crowned International Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year

Crack open the fizz! British vintner beats off French Champagne rivals to be crowned International Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year

  • Langham Wines has won top prize at the International Wine & Spirit Competition
  • The Dorset-based winemaker beat off competition from more than 700 rivals
  • Its £31 Blanc de Blancs 2015 was awarded a gold medal by competition judges
  • The winner was determined by taking an average score across their wine range 

A British winemaker has beaten French rivals to be crowned International Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year.

Langham Wines, which is based in Dorset, saw off competition from top Champagne houses to win the prestigious gong at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2020. 

The award is one of the most distinguished honours a winemaker can win, with 2019’s champion being Veuve Clicquot. 

Langham Wines was just one of more than 700 entries in this year’s competition, which awards the prize to the producer that can demonstrate quality and consistency across its entire range of sparkling wines. 

Dorset-based Langham Wines beat stiff competition to be crowned International Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year

Its Blanc de Blancs 2015, a sparkling Chardonnay priced at £31 a bottle, was awarded a gold medal, with the rest of its range receiving silvers. 

To determine the overall winner, each wine is scored and an average is taken, meaning all the wines must be at a top level. 

Founder Justin Langham said: ‘To even be shortlisted, we were over the moon, but it was anybody’s guess who might win – so when we heard we actually won, to get this worldwide recognition, it was just wow.

‘There were 700 entries, about 240 of those came from the Champagne region, and then others from all over the world including Spain, France, Australia and New Zealand.

Langham’s Blanc de Blancs 2015, priced at £31 a bottle, was awarded a gold medal

‘It is truly global and one of the biggest worldwide competitions. For a relatively small and new outfit like ourselves to win it against someone like Maison Mumm, which has been established for 250 years and has massive marketing and research and development budgets, it just shows it can be done.

‘You don’t have to be the biggest to be the best. 

‘I think by being small we have so much more attention to detail and can take care of every part of the process.

‘I think the varieties of grape and the way we manage the vineyard means we produce very good fruit with interesting flavours and we make our wine with low intervention techniques – we don’t add anything, we let the natural yeasts develop them, so we’re not forcing the fermentation process.

‘It’s great to feel like we’re doing something right.’

Champagne giants such as Lombard, Lanson, Piper-Heidsieck and Veuve Clicquot all won gold and silver medals for their ranges, but it was Langham that claimed the top prize. 

More than 700 winemakers entered this year’s competition but Langham came out on top, with Kent-based Gusbourne also making the final shortlist. Pictured: Georgina Crawshaw of Langham Wines during the harvest season

Langham even pipped French Champagne giants such as Lombard, Lanson and last year’s winners Veuve Clicquot to the top prize. Pictured: the vineyard

The other three shortlisted companies for Producer of the Year were Maison Mumm in France, La Bertole in Italy and another English company, Gusbourne of Kent. 

Justin Langham started the vineyard in 2009 on 30 acres of farmland outside Dorchester.

The south-facing aspect, chalk soils and micro-climate make it perfect for growing the class Champagne varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

They only use grapes grown at their vineyard and the grapes are hand-harvested and picked at optimum ripeness to make white and rosé sparkling wines.

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